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204

flickered at the edge of his consciousness, like something
caught out of the tail of the eye, and he put it from him,
discovering, complacently and craftily, how easy, how un-
expectedly easy, it was to do so if he focused all his powers
upon that spot where the dark trees converged. The thought
was not important, not really. He experienced a sense of
release, of pleasure, at the discovery of its unimportance. The
only thing important now was to fix his eyes upon that point,
yonder, far up the track, and keep them fixed there. That
was important.

A short distance before the pike, after the weed-grown track
had given way to the road, Mr. Munn pulled his mare to the
side, and let the men come even with him. " Good-night,"
he said, his voice having, to his own ears, a barren and croak-
ing sound as though made by some artificial contrivance.

" I thought you might spend the night at my place/* Mr.
Wyngard suggested.

"No," Mr. Munn answered shortly. "I can cut through
here to my road/*

The men moved off and away from him. He watched
them move away, their definite forms disintegrating into the
uncertain shadows; and though solitude had, the minute
before, seemed so beckoning, so desirable, he was now filled
with a perverse and sudden despair, now that those forms
were moving away from him.

He rode at a trot, giving himself as completely as possible
to the rhythm of the motion, the easy, lulling sounds of
hoofs and leather, the anonymous, familiar closeness of the
shadowed landscape. Those items belonged wholly to the
moment in which he existed, a moment without affiliations
with the past or the future. He tried to sink into that mo-
ment, trying to escape from time by surrendering most com-
pletely to time. He felt like a man who, in the ease of a
dream, walks a wire across space, surprised that what had in
waking reality seemed so impossible is so easy, but at the
same time still aware that with a single misstep, a single
failure in balance, he will go hurtling down to one side or the